Prince was scheduled to meet with an opioid addiction specialist the day he died, but the doctor arrived too late, according to the Star Tribune. The day before his death, Prince’s representatives called upon California-based Dr. Howard Kornfeld to fly out to Minnesota to meet with Prince and get him in treatment.
Dr. Howard Kornfeld was contacted late on the night of April 20 and couldn’t clear his schedule to arrive until April 22, the day after Prince passed away. He instead sent his son Andrew Kornfeld, who works as a practice consultant at his father’s treatment facility, Recovery Without Walls, located in Mill Valley, California.
The younger Kornfeld arrived at Paisley Park at 9:30 a.m. on April 21 and was one of the three people who found Prince’s body in the elevator. He also made the 911 call because Prince’s staffers were in too much shock.
Here’s everything you need to know.
1. Prince ‘Was Dealing With a Grave Emergency’ the Night Before His Death
Prince’s representatives contacted Dr. Howard Kornfeld on the night of April 20 because Prince “was dealing with a grave emergency,” Minneapolis attorney William Mauzy, who is working with the Kornfeld family, told the Star Tribune. Kornfeld could not clear his schedule the next day, so he planned to fly to Minnesota on April 22.
Kornfeld also suggested that a local physician from the Minneapolis—Saint Paul area check on Prince and stabilize him, sources told the Star Tribune. Prince was found dead at his Paisley Park home in Chanhassen, Minnesota on April 21.
2. Andrew Kornfeld Made the 911 Call to Report Prince Was Dead
Unable to travel to Minnesota for a couple days, Kornfeld sent ahead his son Andrew to explain to Prince and his representatives how confidential treatment would work, according to the Star Tribune. Andrew took a red-eye flight from San Francisco and was expected to meet with Prince early Thursday morning.
“The plan was to quickly evaluate his health and devise a treatment plan,” Mauzy said, “…The doctor was planning on a lifesaving mission.”
Andrew arrived at Paisley Park at 9:30 a.m. on April 21 and Prince’s representatives told him they couldn’t find the singer. He was one of the three people who discovered Prince dead in the elevator and he made the 911 call, because the two other staffers “screamed” and “were in too much shock” to make the call.
Because he was unfamiliar with Paisley Park and its location, Andrew could only tell the 911 dispatcher that he was “at Prince’s house.” When the dispatcher asked him to clarify the address, he said, “… The people are just distraught… we’re in Minneapolis, Minnesota and we are at the home of Prince… 7801… Paisley Park, we are at Paisley Park.”
Deputies from the Carver County Sheriff’s Department responded to the medical call at 9:43 a.m. and found Prince unresponsive in the elevator. They performed CPR but were unable to revive him. Prince was pronounced dead at 10:07 a.m.
3. Howard Kornfeld Is a National Authority on Opioid Addiction Treatment
Dr. Howard Kornfeld is the founder and director of Recovery Without Walls, an outpatient clinic “which specializes in the treatment of chronic pain, chemical dependency, prescription medication management issues, and problems with alcohol,” according to the clinic’s website. He is also the nationally recognized leader in the use of the opioid pain medication, buprenorphine (also known as Suboxone or Subutex).
Andrew Kornfeld had a small amount of the buprenorphine to give to Prince was never able to administer it, according to the Tribune. He gave the medication to Carver County investigators when they questioned him.
According to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, buphrenorphine is used “to help people reduce or quit their use of heroin or other opiates, such as pain relievers like morphine.” It differs from methadone, another treatment for opioid addiction.
“Unlike methadone treatment, which must be performed in a highly structured clinic, buprenorphine is the first medication to treat opioid dependency that is permitted to be prescribed or dispensed in physician offices, significantly increasing treatment access,” SAMHSA says.
The younger Kornfeld is a pre-med student and not a licensed medical professional, according to the Chicago Tribune. There is the possibility he could face criminal charges for possessing the medication. But his attorney, Mauzy, told reporters he believes Minnesota law, which prevents prosecution on drug possession charges for a person who seeks medical assistance for someone who is overdosing on drugs under certain circumstances, would apply to Kornfeld, the Tribune reports.
The Minnesota law would not protect Andrew if he received or expected compensation for his services, according to TMZ. It’s also illegal for anyone to take prescription drugs across state lines and deliver them to states where the prescribing doctor is not certified.
4. Authorities Discovered Painkillers in Prince’s Possession
The Carver County Sheriff’s Office found painkillers, including Percocet, in Prince’s possession during the course of its investigation. Officials have not said what role, if any, the medications played in the pop star’s death, but the drugs have become a focus in the investigation. Authorities are trying to determine where Prince got the pills and who provided them.
The federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the Minnesota U.S. Attorney’s Office are involved in the investigation into Prince’s death, the Associated Press reports. Carver County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Jason Kamerud noted the DEA has more resources and expertise, which led to their involvement in this case.
5. Prince Overdosed on Opioids Days Before His Death
Six days before his death, Prince’s plane made an emergency landing during his flight back home to Minnesota from a concert in Atlanta. The flight touched down in Moline, Illinois because Prince was overdosing on opioids, according to the Star Tribune.
Paramedics waiting for him at the airport gave him a Narcan shot, which is an opioid antidote. Prince was then rushed to the hospital and released a few hours later against medical advice.